Open World games can be a lot of fun! Especially when an indie developer makes one. Indie developers seem more creative with something like an open-world game.
They don’t just limit themselves to an Action-RPG. You have survival games, sandbox games, and many other genres.
Sandbox games are my favorite types of Open World games. They let you explore and decide what you want to do within the game’s loose rules.
Bottom Line up Front: Open-World indie Games are Often More Creative than AAA Counterparts.
What is an Open World game? An open-world game is any game that is non-linear and has many ways to achieve any objective. It can also be a sandbox that has no set end goal.
Let’s talk about what qualifies for this list. I’m not just going to be putting any random game on this list. I’ll be using either the Metacritic or the User scores in the case of a game being in early access or if there isn’t a definitive critic score yet.
Here are the selection criteria I’m going with to select the best Indie open world games:
- The games can be any genre as long as they have an Open World.
- The game has to be made by a small studio without being published by a large publisher. (i.e., EA, Activision, Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, etc.)
- The game must have a Metacritic score of 70 percent or higher or a user score of 70 percent or higher.
- Developer: Mojang
- Genre: Open World Sandbox
- Metacritic Score: 93
Minecraft offers the player so many things to do. It’s a big world where you can explore, build, play with magic, and build crazy machines. I use it to play with Legos.
I’ve been playing Minecraft on and off for years, and I still like building many illogical castles and connecting them with roads. It’s also fun to fight the monsters if you want to.
I remember playing Minecraft for the first time and not getting it. Then I tried it again, and I found something that I liked about it! I got to build a castle on top of a volcano. How could that not be fun!
- Developer: Mobius Digital
- Genre: Action-Adventure
- Metacritic Score: 85
This is a bit of a dark game. I like it a lot, though. There is something I love about trying to solve a mystery. In this case, a mystery about why the solar system is in a time loop.
While you have a goal, you can explore as much as you want. There were times that I didn’t care about what the game wanted me to do. I wanted to see more of this place and talk with the people in this world.
Outer Wilds is a fun game with a fascinating mystery to unravel. Looking around and exploring the world is a fun thing to do in this game.
- Developer: Krillbite Studio
- Genre: Open World
- Metacritic Score: 83
In this game, you go for a nice hike through a forest. There is a good chance that my desire to go hiking after a long winter has affected this list. I wish I could find a forest as beautiful as this one!
The trees tell you the story as you walk through this hand-painted forest. It reminds me of listening to the wind blowing through the leaves and branches of trees. Of course, in real life, the trees don’t talk to you, but the sounds of the forest can be calming, terrifying, and fascinating all at the same time.
This is one of those games that I used to help me relax. It was a very soothing game.
A Short Hike
- Developer: adamgryu
- Genre: Adventure
- Metacritic Score: 82
A Short Hike has a nice art style that I like. It looks like a Dreamcast game in some ways. It’s a very nice-looking game with a mixture of pixel art and polygons.
You play as a Penguin named Claire. What you’re doing is traveling to a mountain top to get some cell service. Along the way, you can go anywhere and collect a bunch of stuff. There are plenty of people to talk with.
It’s an excellent idea for a game. You can walk straight to the goal or explore this place. You can do pretty much anywhere in this little park.
Subnautica: Below Zero
- Developer: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
- Genre: Open World Adventure
- Metacritic Score: 82
Subnautica: Below Zero is a sequel to Subnautica. It’s an exciting game. It’s an underwater crafting and survival game.
You build bases, explore the ocean, and craft items. It feels like an underwater version of Minecraft, but with more modern graphics.
This was a fun game to play. I think I like this one more than the first. It’s one of those times that I have to disagree with the critics. I get what they’re saying, but I enjoyed this game more than the first.
7 Days to Die
- Developer: Fun Pimps
- Genre: Survival Crafting
- Metacritic Score: 8.3/10 (User Score)
7 Days to Die straddles the line between Open World and Sandbox. The map is big enough to take some time to explore, and you can create larger maps for each game. It’s a fun game for both single and multiplayer.
The game seems like it is in a perpetual state of development. However, it has improved a lot since it was first released. With the current version of the game, the zombies look better, the weapons are better, and the graphics have improved.
Your only goal is to explore, build, and stay alive! A zombie horde attacks your base every 7 days, increasing in difficulty each time. This is my favorite game on this list!
Untitled Goose Game
- Developer: House House
- Genre: Simulation
- Metacritic Score: 79
Sometimes you need to be a jerk. I feel like Untitled Goose Game let me do all the things I usually did in games but rewarded me for it. You harass people, and the fact that you’re a goose makes it funnier.
This is a cartoonish and funny game. You have a few things that you can do in this game, which seem to be centered around annoying people.
This isn’t a long game. However, it is a fun game to play and see what crazy things you can do in this city.
- Developer: Eastshade Studios
- Genre: Adventure
- Metacritic Score: 78
In this game, you play as an Ape-man and explore the land of Eastshade. It’s a beautiful game with a beautiful alien world.
Along the way, you can pick up tasks to complete, and you can find things to paint. The painting was probably my favorite part of the game. It reminds me of the photography games where you need to take pictures of different things.
This isn’t an action-packed game, but it is a nice change of pace from other indie games. As much as I like trying to survive a swarm of zombies, sometimes I would instead explore and find the beauty in a game.
The Long Dark
- Developer: Hinterland
- Genre: Open World Survival
- Metacritic Score: 77
This is a survival game like 7 Days to Die but without the zombies. The Long Dark takes a more realistic approach to things. There are a few game modes in the game; I’ll only be talking about the Survival mode for this list.
You’re just trying to stay alive for as long as you can. You need to build a shelter, find food, collect water, and make the necessary tools to survive. While doing this, you need to explore the world and gather resources.
Games like this are a lot of fun. There are still predators out there, and you will need to survive. You can set your own goals and make your own fun.
- Developer: Bubble Studio
- Genre: Adventure
- Metacritic Score: 7.6/10 (User Score)
In Haven Park, you are going camping. As I mentioned, I’m excited about the camping season! Regardless, this is another fun game that lets you play and explore at your own pace.
You can explore the campground, talk with the other campers, build and upgrade campsites, and try to keep the other campers happy. I think Animal Crossing is better, but this game is a nice alternative.
This is a fun cartoony game. I played this on the Switch, but it is also available on the PC.
- Genre: RPG
- Metacritic Score: 75
This is a game that I got to watch grow during early access. I wouldn’t say I liked it much at first, but I could see what the developers were trying to do when I revisited it.
It’s an interesting setting, and being an open-world game, you are free to explore this place. It can be hard to get into at first, but it’s well worth it.
You can go anywhere in this game and build your party in the way you want. There are also a good number of unique classes to choose from. It feels like a game I would have played back in the 90s.
The Planet Crafter
- Developer: Miju Games
- Genre: Open World Survival Crafting
- Metacritic Score: 7.5/10 (User Score)
The Planet Crafter is a little like No Man’s Sky and a bit of Minecraft. Your goal is to make a planet habitable, which seems odd to me since you’re there all alone. I would think there would be a team with you.
You have to build a base, make the atmosphere breathable, and do other things to make sure people can live here. It’s a fun idea, and I like exploring an alien planet with no set time limit to complete your goal.
The way the game currently is reminds me of how 7 Days to Die started. There isn’t much going on, but it is still early access so that it can get better.
My Time at Portia
- Developer: Pathea Games
- Genre: Simulation
- Metacritic Score: 73
My Time at Portia is one of those games that I don’t know if I like or not. It looks nice, and I like the idea of exploring a small town. There is a lot in it that I like.
It’s a bright and colorful game with plenty of stuff to do. Getting to know the people who live in Portia is also fun.
However, while I was playing it, I kept thinking about other games I would like to play. It’s an okay game that is a nice change of pace from some of the more action-packed games.
- Developer: System Era Softworks
- Genre: Sandbox
- Metacritic Score: 71
Every so often, you just have to blow up parts of a planet, which is exactly what you can do in Astroneer!
You travel to alien planets and do whatever you want. It is a multiplayer game if you want it to be. Exploring a strange world is just fun! Also, you get to play with Legos, basically. I know there is more to it than that, but that is how I play games like this.
I like seeing these games, exploring the world, and thinking about how I would build things.
- Developer: Gamlous
- Genre: Adventure
- Metacritic Score: 70
Lake is a beautiful and relaxing game. You’re delivering mail. No dogs are chasing you, and none of your co-workers are losing their minds. It’s a nice drive around a lake while you deliver mail.
In a way, it feels like a less stressful version of the arcade game Paperboy. The walking part of the game is great, but the driving is pretty miserable.
It’s a little rough around the edges. The animations feel off, but the forests and the lighting look great. Lake feels like a great game that has a few rough spots.
Best of the Rest
Unfortunately, I couldn’t add all of the games that I found. So here are the games that didn’t get a more in-depth look.
- The Long Drive
- Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord
- The Hunter: Call of the Wild
- Project Zomboid
- Hunt: Showdown
- Medieval Dynasty
Question: What is the Biggest Open-World Game?
Answer: Currently, Minecraft has the largest open-world in video games. I’m not sure if another game will beat it in terms of the size of the world. It has a world size of 1.5 billion square miles. Earth is 196.7 million square miles.
Question: What makes a game open-world?
Answer: Being able to explore and take on tasks whenever you want freely makes a game open-world. Also, a lack of a linear story may be present in the game, or it can be less of a focus as the player can go off and do what they want and tackle the story at any time.
Question: What was the First Open-World Game?
Answer: From what I can tell, the first open-world game was Jet Rocket by SEGA.
Question: What is the Difference Between a Sandbox and an Open-World Game?
Answer: Open-world is about the game’s setting. Sandbox is a game mechanic that allows the player a lot of freedom in what they want to do and how they want to do it.
Question: Where can I Play the Games on this List?
• Minecraft – PC, macOS, Android, Xbox360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS3, PS4, Nintendo Switch. Basically everything.
• Outer Wilds – PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4
• Sunlight – PC
• A Short Hike – PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Nintendo Switch
• Subnautica: Below Zero – PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch
• 7 Days to Die – PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4
• Untitled Goose Game – PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch
• Eastshade – PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4
• The Long Dark – PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Nintendo Switch
• Haven Park – PC, Nintendo Switch
• Kenshi – PC
• The Planet Crafter – PC
• My Time at Portia – PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch
• Astroneer – PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Nintendo Switch
• Lake – PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5
Open-world games can be a lot of fun. There are plenty of possibilities for the type of game you might want to play. I prefer an open-world sandbox game where you can do anything you want.
Games like 7 Days to Die, Minecraft, and Mount & Blade are pleasant distractions from the more story-driven games. I like just playing and using your imagination to fill in a story for games like this.
These are just some of the games that I could find. There are many other open-world games out there, and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.